For the first time in nearly 50 years since its founding in 1973 the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States – DISCUS has held its first conference. The inaugural conference held this week in Louisville, Kentucky recognized four industry members from legendary brands including the longest serving master distiller in the world to a young startup that’s only been in the business for 10 years. A decade may sound like a long time for many businesses but when it comes to distilled spirits several of the heritage distilleries have been in business for more than 100 years.
The Association’s awards included the Top Shelf Award, Lifetime Achievement Award, Dave Pickerell Memorial Craft Member of the Year Award and Chairman’s Leadership Award. The event was attended by more than 350 industry professional’s with the award ceremony emceed by Wall Street Journal-bestselling spirits author Fred Minnick.
“The spirits industry is filled with outstanding leaders who push our industry forward,” said Chris Swonger, DISCUS President and CEO. “It was an honor to recognize our best and brightest for their efforts to support not only our industry but the men and women who work within it. Each recipient is well-deserving, and we are proud to celebrate their success.”
And the Winner is…
DISCUS Top Shelf Award Goes to Congressman John Yarmuth
The DISCUS Top Shelf Award is given to an outstanding legislator, regulator or official that has been a friend to the spirits industry and helped advance the DISCUS mission.
The 2020 award went to House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) who represents Kentucky’s Third Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. Now in his seventh term, the chairman has been recognized for his work to improve education, expand access to affordable health care and revitalize manufacturing in Louisville. In the spirits world Yarmuth is best known as the Congressmen in charge of the Congressional Bourbon Caucus.
DISCUS Lifetime Achievement Award Goes to Chairman of Sazerac William Goldring
The DISCUS Lifetime Achievement Award honors an individual who supports the industry during their lifetime through significant innovation and promotion of the industry, commercial strategy, advocacy or responsibility.
“Bill” Goldring is a lifelong New Orleans resident who joined his father’s beverage alcohol business at an early age. He quickly became a tenacious marketer while building a far-reaching network of companies in the beverage alcohol business. Today, Goldring is Chairman of Sazerac Company best known for Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky and Chairman of Crescent Crown Distributing.
DISCUS Dave Pickerell Memorial Craft Member of the Year Goes to St. Augustine Distillery’s Philip McDaniel
The DISCUS Dave Pickerell Memorial Craft Member of the Year award was created in memory of Dave Pickerell, the “Johnny Appleseed of craft distilling” and is awarded to a leader in advancing the craft distiller community and supporting the association with its advocacy efforts. Pickerell is the former Master Distiller of Maker’s Mark Distillery, was inducted into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame and is responsible for starting or helping to start more than 100 craft distilleries around the U.S.
As the Co-Founder and CEO of St. Augustine Distillery, Philip McDaniel has helped lead local, state legislative and federal initiatives to grow Florida’s burgeoning craft spirits industry. Since opening in 2014, the company has become one of the most visited distilleries in America hosting more than 600,000 visitors per year.
DISCUS Chairman’s Leadership Award – Wild Turkey’s Master Distiller Jimmy Russell
The DISCUS Chairman’s Leadership Award is the highest recognition for individual achievement to acknowledge and celebrate exemplary leadership and positive impact on advancing the spirits industry.
The 2020 Chairman’s Leadership Award went to none other than the “Buddha of Bourbon” and “The Master Distiller’s Master Distiller” by his industry peers.
The Longest-Tenured Active Master Distiller
James C. “Jimmy” Russell has been making whiskey at the Wild Turkey Distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, for 66 years since September 10, 1954. Russell is the longest-tenured, active spirits master distiller in the world.
Each DISCUS award was created by Vendome Copper and Brass Works, manufacturer of handcrafted batch and continuous distillation systems of all sizes.
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